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2019 EDITION RACE ON

Description:

MBC 2019 REGISTRATION & OPENING CEREMONY

 

The official registration and opening ceremony with pre-race briefing for the 2019 Mongolia Bike Challenge, presented by Selle SMP, took place this evening in Ulaanbaatar. Hosted by sponsor hotel, the Bayangol Hotel, the 2019 participants collected their race numbers and briefing for the race, along with information for Stage 1. 

The 10th Anniversary Edition will take them on a spectacular race route from the nation’s Capital towards the finish line in Karakorum, which was the capital of the Mongol Empire between 1235 and 1260 and the hosting town of the finish line of the first three editions of the Mongolia Bike Challenge. In between are six stages through the magnificent Mongolian steppes with panoramic mountain passes, unspoiled rivers and incredible views of rare beauty.

“For me personally this last decade has been an incredible journey,'' said the race founder Willy Mulonia in UB today as he spoke to his 108 racers from 25 countries. “It has been a journey of crazy emotions and endless learning and I am so proud that we are about to embark on the 10th edition and anniversary celebrations with a very special group of people!”

Every night will be spent under the romantic roof of a traditional Mongolian ger and they will be experiencing what life must have been like for people in the days of Genghis Khan, with their two-wheeled steed parked outside.

Willy said that all the hard work and preparation by racers as well as the crew was soon to be put to the test out in the wilds of one of the most beautiful places on earth and that for him 108 was a sacred number, “For me the number 108 encapsulates meanings of support and encouragement and that a cycle in life might be coming to an end but new opportunities lay ahead. For me it manifests positive abundance, personal power, a desire for peace and a love of humanity.”

And as the sun was setting across the Tuul River valley this evening and an emotional and inspiring rider briefing still on their minds, 108 warriors rested to take on the adventure of a lifetime in the morning.

Let’s get the party started!!!

Stage Gallery:

Stage Chronicle:

Mongolian National Team takes the lead in Tuul River Valley

Today the 10th Anniversary Edition of the Mongolian Bike Challenge started in Ulaanbaatar. Cyclists from 25 countries are taking part in the adventure of a lifetime to race for six days through the magnificent landscapes of the Land of the Eternal Blue Sky. The Mongolian National Team took the race lead today at Moltsog Els with the reigning U23 National Road Cycling Champion Bilguunjargal Erdenebat winning the 87km and 1700vm marathon stage in 3h24:55.8. The fastest female racer was Ana Isabel Costa Pinto Alves from Portugal finishing in 4h27:42.0.

As one of the major international mountain bike stage races in the world the 2019 event sold out and 108 racers rolled out of the Capital at 8:30am local time in neutral. After a 30km ride the peloton waited together and the official start was recorded at 10:08am at Khui Doloon Khundag in the outskirts of Ulaanbaatar, known for its horse racing events and the Naadam Festival. The centuries-old tradition of Mongolia has been inscribed on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The two-day event presents the unique aspects of nomadic arts and culture in an interactive way, including pop-up ger villages and traditional arts and crafts showcases like calligraphy writing, traditional painting, felt stitching and wool processing.

Three local racers with stage winner Bilguunjargal dominated the entire stage. The trio took off right from the official start and blasted out onto the 72km race route. Racing in the team classification as the Mongolian National Team the three Sportman category racers Bilguunjargal Erdenebat Nr. 41, Bolor-Erdene Enkhtaivan Nr. 7 and Buyntogtokh Navaansamdan Nr. 66 achieved a lead of about 2 km as the race progressed. Richard Deglise from Switzerland Nr. 35 was hard on the chase.

Unfortunately the three race leaders went off course before the first GPM classification timing point (Gran Premio della Montagna), the King of the Mountain title of the Mongolia Bike Challenge. Quickly realising their mistake, they started a wild chase managing to catch up with the lead group at the 45km mark. It was cross-country and marathon specialist Bilguunjargal Nr. 41 who claimed the first GPM title ahead of his team mates and the Swiss racer.

In a thrilling attack the Mongolian National Team riders again broke away at the 60 km mark in a display of incredible endurance and riding skill on their home turf. Bilguunjargal also claimed the second GPM title today and won with a solid lead by 4:49.4 minutes ahead of Bolor-Erdene Enekhtaivan and Buyntogtokh Navaansamdan (+7:22.9 min). The Swiss Richard Deglise came in fourth (+8:28.8 min) and Fran Tejada Benedito from Spain is fifth overall (+15:31.5 min).

At only 22 years old, Bilguunjargal said that the Mongolia Bike Challenge was an ideal training race for an upcoming major road event with the Mongolian National Team in China. He said that he was very proud to be at the start of Stage 2 as the race leader and added,

The Mongolian Bike Challenge is a very special race for me and it is a very hard race. There is so much climbing, day after day, it is the ideal training race for me. I am very proud to win a stage in such an internationally acclaimed event.

The female race leader Ana Isabel Costa Pinto Alves said that this was only her second ever stage race. The passionate bike-packing adventurer said of the MBC that it had been the remote scenery that she had looked forward to the most.

The landscape is so beautiful, you actually forget that you are riding while you race. I really look forward to the coming days and being out there in nature to just enjoy the peace and freedom on my bike.

As much as stage one proved once again that this event is a thrilling race, the event was above all an epic experience, said Race Director and MBC Founder Willy Mulonia.

This race is for everyone who wants to experience what it feels like to step out of his or her comfort zone, he said.

He added that it was a spectacular event that immerses its racers as well as the crew into an unforgettable 24/7 adventure among a big multi-cultural family in the wilds of the beautiful landscapes of Mongolia.

Recovering and resting in a traditional ger camp in Moltsog Els near the Hustai National Park the MBC racers of 2019 will embark on a 108km and 1100vm marathon towards the Tuul River Valley for Stage 2, finishing at Tuul Ovoot ger camp.

Stage Gallery:

Description:

Start immediately into rugged mountains and cross 4 small ridge parallel to each other and continue along the southern foothill of a larger xxx ridge for 30km. This stretch runs along the north side of Tuul river. The landscape is arid steppe with short grass growing on rocky and sandy soil. Then the course turns north into the Khustai mountain range and climbs following small ravines and stream beds for 13km before descending to a group of sand dunes just before the finish lines.

  • LEAVING ULN AT 8:30 AM WITH POLICE ESCORT (28KM)
  • OFFICIAL START FROM KHUI DOLOO KHUNDAG (72 KM)
  • WE ARE GOING TO SLEEP IN A GER CAMP.
  • BED AND "HOT SHOWER"
  • 3G COVERAGE

Overview

Departure: Leaving Ulaan Baatar Down Town at 8:30 am
Arrival: MOLTSOG ELS
Distance: 87Km
Daily Climb: 1700m

Difficulty

Climb Awards: 2
Technical Challenge: Medium
Physical Challenge: Medium-High

Race Timing

Start Time: 10:30 am
Max. Allowed Time: 6 H
Last Arrival Time: 4:30 pm

Classifications:

Stage Chronicle:

Mongolian domination continues in Tuul River Valley

The three Mongolian National Team racers continue their strong MBC campaign on the second stage of the 10th Anniversary Edition. Bilguunjargal Erdenebat places third in the 108km marathon stage today and with a +2:21.8 lead defends his Khan jersey. Team mate Buyntogtokh Navaansamdan wins both GPM classifications and with a race time of 3h16:49.4 claims also the stage victory in a sprint finish ahead of Bolor-Erdene Enkhtaivan at Tuul Ovoot, the spectacular ger camp on the Tuul River. Ana Isabel Costa Pinto Alves defends her race in 4h11:04.6 lead among the women ahead of Leah Bayer from the United States.

After a thunderstorm overnight today the magnificently colourful peloton of 108 racers of the Mongolia Bike Challenge 2019 started their day on undulating terrain and riding along car tracks on rugged slopes, wild horses galopping next to them along the way. With two GPM (King of the Mountain) classifications the stage profile included many uphills and descents until the highest point at 57km on above 1500m sea level.

The Race Director and Founder Willy Mulonia said that he tremendously enjoyed the sight of the peloton assembling.

I must admit I feel almost guilty for getting so much joy out of the event this year. I am not nervous anymore, I am not used to this feeling of pure joy and happiness during the race that is usually quite stressful. It is incredible, pure pleasure for me! The weather conditions are okay, the landscape is beautiful, people are enjoying the course, I am very content with the 10th MBC so far.

He added that he was also extremely focused as usual because for him the race is on for another week, until everyone is back in Ulaanbaatar and commencing their journeys back home.

Two of the three dominant Mongolian racers again charged ahead right from the start and for a few kilometers it looked like they would break away even from race leader Bilguunjargal Erdenebat who proudly wore the pink Khan jersey. The two leaders set a high pace and had a lead of one minute and a half on the Pink Jersey at the 30km mark, the first feedzone.

About a minute behind Bilguunjargal the Mongolian riders a battle for podium positions had erupted with a big group of riders hard on the chase. By the first GPM classification at 47km then the race leader Bilguunjargal managed to catch up to his team mates. After the highest elevation point with the second GPM classification, mountain valleys with small streams and dry river beds eventually gave way to a wide open grassland, the Tuul River Valley.  Together the three leaders charged onwards at a high pace further increasing their lead on the long final descent into Tuul Ovoot ger camp.

Some racers truly stood out today including Richard Deglise who is now fourth overall with a gap of +21:41.2 to Bilguunjargal and the Swiss racer leads the Master 1 classification ahead of Nicolas Raybaud from France (+34:24.7 gap and sixth in GC).

Having raced the Mongolia Bike Challenge before, Nicolas said today that the international racers were very impressed with the performance of the three local race leaders.

This year it seems like the Mongolians want to conquer the whole world again! These three racers are very strong, they attack all the time and set such a high pace, I wonder if anyone can still challenge them for the race lead. Even after two days it is hard to imagine that anyone but one of those three will win this race.

He added that the atmosphere in the chase group was positive and that everyone enjoyed the event and the beautiful scenery. Today the front end of the chase group had worked together well, turning themselves inside out to try and make up time.

After two days the strong Spanish racer Fran Tejada Benedito sits in fifth overall (+33:29.8) and is leading the Master 2 category ahead of Hamish Morrin from New Zealand (seventh in GC).

Female race lead for Portugal
The eight female racers this year come represent five different nationalities and the Portugese racer Ana Isabel Costa Pinto Alves claims her second stage win among the women today, defending her lead ahead of tomorrow’s third stage. Leah Bayer from the United States is in second overall with a gap of just under two hours and Amparo Herena Sánchez Martín from Spain is third in the female GC (+2h08:05.3).

Tomorrow the racers will embark on the 137km Queen Stage of 2019, which will take them further West and across the spectacular grasslands of Central Mongolia and towards the magnificent Elsen Tasarkhai sand dunes and ger camp.

Stage Gallery:

Description:

First half of today’s distance is on mountainous terrain with the race course (distinct car tracks) running on rugged slopes. The profile is marked with frequent ups and downs until reaching the day’s highest point at 57km. From there on it is a long descent. Mountain valleys and with small streams are dry beds eventually give way to a wide open grassland, the Tuul river valley. We cross a concrete bridge and pedal along the lush riverside to finish point.

  • WE ARE GOING TO SLEEP IN A GER CAMP.
  • BED AND "HOT SHOWER"
  • 3G COVERAGE

Overview

Departure: MOLTOSG ELS
Arrival: TUUL OVOOT
Distance: 108Km
Daily Climb: 1100m

Difficulty

Climb Awards: 2
Technical Challenge: Medium
Physical Challenge: Medium

Race Timing

Start Time: 8:30 am
Max. Allowed Time: 8 H
Last Arrival Time: 4:30 pm

Classifications:

Stage Chronicle:

Third stage win for Mongolia at Elsen Tasarkhai

Today a tough Queen Stage of the Mongolia Bike Challenge took the riders through the lush grasslands of Central Mongolia where they battled strong head and side winds. The finish was at the Mini Gobi Desert Elsen Tasarkhai, an 80 by five kilometer long sand dune landscape, which offered magnificent panoramic views - and a final stretch of 10km through deep sandy sections. Once again it was a rider of the Mongolian National Team who was able to claim the stage win: with a net race time of 5h48:49.5; Bolor-Erdene Enkhtaivan won the sprint finish against race leader Bilguunjargal Erdenebat. Buyntogtokh Navaansamdan came in third. No change in the female classification: Ana Isabel Costa Pinto Alves takes her third stage win in 7h13:36.5.

What a treat! Racers and crew were mesmerised with the scenery of the stage today. Exhausted from a long and extremely windy day in the saddle of the longest stage this year, they excitedly shared their experiences from out on track at the stage finish in Elsen Tasarkhai. They spoke of a series of granite ranges with dramatic rock formations alongside the race course, of racing past wild animals and livestock including horses, sheep, goats, camels and cattle and the unforgettable encounters with the local nomadic herders who came out of their mushroom like houses to give them a wave and a smile.

In misty weather the third stage had started at a more moderate pace than on previous days with a large lead group racing together. Conscious of the longest stage distance on the menu they worked together - with 137km and 1700vm the Queen Stage of the 2019 MBC. The initial lead group included the three Mongolian race leaders (Sportman category), the two Master 1 racers Nicolas Raybaud Nr. 2 (FRA) and Richard Deglise Nr. 35 (SUI), as well as the Master 2 racers Hamish Morrin Nr. 4 from New Zealand and Ryan Saylor Nr. 77 from the US.

At the first feed zone, however, Bolor-Erdene Enkhtaivan had a 2 minute lead after a solo attack and gained another good 30 seconds as he passed the third feed zone, claiming the GPM classification points. His fellow Mongolian team mates reportedly were hard on the chase with only Bilguunjargal being able to catch up and in the end Bolor-Erdene then claimed the stage win in a sprint finish. Buyntogtokh came in third with a gap of +4:54 and the chasing trio of Nicolas Raybaud (4th), Hamish Morrin (5th) and Richard Deglise (6th) crossed the line together after 6h00:56.3.

Hamish Morrin said that this was his second Mongolia Bike Challenge and that he found the new course tougher than two years ago, however, at the same time he enjoyed the well-equipped ger camps and new stage destinations a lot. Originally from New Zealand and living in Germany, he admitted that he had only started riding six years ago and that he had picked up a lot of endurance skills by racing cyclo-cross in Europe. The hills around Frankfurt had been his training grounds for this event, his main race of the year. Of the chase group and racing experience today he said,

We all started together and when the first Mongolian got away, his team mates started attacking and the three of us kept on covering them a few times. But they kept surging and playing games and at 50km they took off. The three of us popped within 2km and couldn’t keep up and from then onwards we worked together the whole way. You have to. Today it was really tough, the strong head wind and the last section towards the finish with the deep sand, you need to have people around you.

Despite the brutal and exhausting sandy conditions towards the end of the stage, many races as well as crew said that the highlight of the race had been the view of the Mongol Els sand dunes and the stage finish Elsen Tasarkhai, which literally means an isolated torn-off piece of sand. It is a small area of real desert in the midst of green steppes about 280 km west of Ulaanbaatar. The sand dunes are surrounded by hills covered with rare bushes and a small forest near a river, a unique combination of Mongolian mountains, forests and Gobi-type landscape in one location. Local people call this sand dunes Duut mankhan (Singing sand).

GC progress results after three stages

Overall, Bilguunjargal holds onto the Khan leader jersey with a total race time of 12h33:13.2 after three stages. Bolor-Erdene is in second (+2:01.0) and Buyntogtokh in third (+9:19.1). Four riders are on the chase within an hour of the Mongolian National Team: Richard Deglise from Switzerland is in fourth overall (+33:57.2), French racer Nicolas Raybaud in fifth (+46:40.7), the Hamish Morrin (NZ) in sixth (+46:56.7) and Ryan Saylor from the US in seventh (+49:22.2).

In the female GC, the Portugese racer Ana Isabel Costa Pinto Alves holds a solid lead with three stage wins in 15h52:23.1 ahead of Leah Bayer from the US (+2h59:14.9) and Amparo Herena Sanchez Martin (+3h55:56.7).

Stage 4 tomorrow will be a 104km and 1250vm marathon to Sangiin Dalai Lake, a large salt water lake known as a sanctuary for wild birds further South.

Stage Gallery:

Description:

Grasslands of Central Mongolia with 360 views of distant mountain ranges. A series of granite ranges with dramatic rock formations lie alongside the race course. Although arid the grassland is lush enough for hundreds and thousands of traditional livestock to subsist including horses, sheep, goats, camels and cattle of which you will see plenty. Their owners - curious nomadic herders who will come to wave you and their mushroom like houses will be a common sight today. The race course is smooth with packed soils prevailing. However, after completing 3/4 of the distance massive sand dunes will come into your sight and you will finish upon reaching them. Last few km will be sandy though.

  • TONIGHT WE ARE GOING TO SLEEP IN A GER CAMP.
  • BED AND "HOT SHOWER"

Overview

Departure: TUUL OVOOT
Arrival: ELSEN TASARKHAI
Distance: 137Km
Daily Climb: 1700m

Difficulty

Climb Awards: 1
Technical Challenge: Medium-High
Physical Challenge: Very High

Race Timing

Start Time: 8:30 am
Max. Allowed Time: 9 H
Last Arrival Time: 5:30 pm

Classifications:

Stage Chronicle:

Maglia Rosa for Bolor-Erdene Enkhtaivan at Sangiin Dalai Lake

Change of guard after four days at the Mongolia Bike Challenge today at Sangiin Dalai Lake: Bolor-Erdene Enkhtaivan (Nr. 7) wins today in 4h09:31.7 with a big time gap of more than 4 minutes to Bilguunjargal Erdenebat (Nr. 41) who had bad luck on the last section of the stage, missing a turn in a village and losing enough time to drop to second in GC. The 25-year old reigning Mongolian National Individual Time Trial Champion Bolor-Erdene therefore will start the second-last stage tomorrow in the Maglia Rosa jersey. Ana Isabel Costa Pinto Alves is the fastest woman for the fourth day in a row and the overall female leader, finishing in 5h27:07.1.

The 104km marathon of day four started with a 10km crossing of the sand dunes, most of which was unrideable. The racers braved the conditions well, many walking for long stretches which resulted in a very sociable start to the stage. The peloton quickly picked up the race pace at about 1300m sea level with the elevation profile crossing countless wide open graddy valleys full of grazing livestock.

Race leader Bilguunjargal Erdenebat (Nr. 41) and Bolor-Erdene Enkhtaivan (Nr. 7) quickly barged ahead and by the half-way mark had about a one minute lead on their team mate. The 9-man chase group had a gap of about five minutes, working together trying to make up time.

It had been less windy than on previous days on those open plains and some racers said that the 1250vm today had felt like one big massive climb. The GPM (King of the Mountain) classification awaited the racers at just above 1800 sea level. From there, if they had time to look around them and taken in their reward, they would have seen the northern fringes of the Gobi Desert.

Between the GPM and the 75km mark, the sprint expert Bolor-Erdene Enkhtaivan, who has been dealing with the long distances at the MBC so well, had attacked the Maglia Rosa of Bilguunjargal. He charged towards the finish and started increasing his lead as they passed through a small village, where Bilguunjargal was struck by bad luck as he missed a turn and went off course. His mistake came at a prize: not only losing the chance to sprint for a stage win but also dropping back to second place in GC with a gap of +2:11.6.

After a 10km descent down open plains they reached the finish at the small salt lake. Known for its abundance of bird and wildlife it is called Sangiin Dalai Lake and the organisers erected a tent village as the event camp tonight.

Battle for fourth place erupts
With Buyntogtokh Navaansamdan now in third overall with a gap of +17:03.0, the battle for fourth position in heating up: Richard Deglise (SUI) defends his fourth place overall and Spaniard Fran Tejada Benedito moves into fifth ahead of Nico Raybaud (FRA) and Hamish Morrin (NZ).

After four days and with a gap of +43:49.0 to the new Khan and race leader Bolor-Erdene Enkhtaivan, the Swiss amateur and passionate stage racer Richard Deglise remains the only racer coming within an hour of the Mongolian National Team and today credited the large group of chase riders around him for their strong racing.

I am happy that I have been able to somewhat contain that gap to under an hour, but I must say we are a big chase group with a lot of strong riders and we have been working together well. Today I tried to catch up to the third Mongolian racer [Buyntogtokh] but I could not keep up, they are that dominant!

Deglise said that this was his first MBC and his 10th stage race and that he really enjoyed the adventure.

I love to race and ride and am used to climbing from my training in Switzerland. I really love it here, the landscape is so magnificent and so wide and open, so different from where I come from. This race truly is an adventure and that is exactly what I was looking for coming here!

Stage five will take the MBC peloton on 126km north-west towards the the Khangai Mountains, an old mountain range in central Mongolia. With 1750vm this day will have the most climbing of the MBC 2019 stages until the finish line in the Orkhon river valley on 1800m sea level.

Stage Gallery:

Description:

Beyond that we race along the sand dunes for about 20km and enter gentle bare mountains and continue SW on smooth packed soils which can turn muddy in case of rain. We follow a few wide grassy valleys full of grazing livestock before reaching the day’s highest point from which there open views of the Gobi’s northern fringes. Just over 10 more km descent to an open plain brings us to a finish by a small salt lake.

  • WE ARE GOING TO SLEEP IN OUR OWN CAMP.
  • SLEEPING BAG + MATTRESS AND  COLD SHOWER
  • BAD 3G COVERAGE

Overview

Departure: ELSEN TASARKHAI
Arrival: SANGIIN DALAI LAKE
Distance: 104Km
Daily Climb: 1250m

Difficulty

Climb Awards: 1
Technical Challenge: Medium-High
Physical Challenge: High

Race Timing

Start Time: 8:30 am
Max. Allowed Time: 7 H
Last Arrival Time: 5:30 pm

Classifications:

Stage Chronicle:

Bolor-Erdene Enkhtaivan defends overall race lead at Orkhon River

The stage winner of the second-last stage of the 2019 MBC is Buyntogtokh Navaansamdan and the three leading Mongolian National Team racers remain invincible it seams. With a race time of 5h04:04.7. With a lead of 12 seconds Buyntogtokh out-sprinted race leader Bolor-Erdene Enkhtaivan, who defends his Maglia Rosa leader jersey after a total race time of 21h47:32.6. Bilguunjarga Erdenebat came in third today with a gap of +9:51 min and was not to claw back his race lead from the first four days and sits now in second overall by +12:10.9 min. In third overall is stage winner Navaansamdan with a gap of +17:01 min and the Swiss racer Richard Deglise defended his fourth spot, but the gap increased to +1h14:12.3. Ana Isabel Costa Pinto Alves finished in 6h42:51.6 and now impressively claims the 25th spot in the general classification with a total race time of 28h02:21.8 ahead of the last stage tomorrow.

With the second-last stage of the 10th Anniversary edition of the Mongolia Bike Challenge reared up once more, challenging the racers with punishing head winds, gruelling climbs and three GPM classifications. The third mountain points classification took the racers above 2,200m sea level and many said that they could feel the high altitude with oxygen levels lower. From there distant shapes of the Gobi Desert were visible and such views come at a prize: a brutal 1,750 meters of climbing all up today.

However, it also rewarded its warriors with magnificent scenery of volcanic rock formations as they raced towards the finish at Orkhon River, with a length of 1124 kilometers the longest in Mongolia. It originates in Khangai Mountain Range and merges to Selenge River, eventually reaching Lake Baikal. For its historical value related to Great Mongolian Empire, Orkhon river Valley is listed in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites and has been protected since 2006 as a National Park.

One of the most popular spots along the river for locals and visitors alike is the iconic Orkhon Waterfall, also called Ulaan Tsutgalan, which was formed about 20,000 years ago during an earthquake that caused volcanic eruptions and offers a spectacular and unforgettable sight not far from the MBC ger camp tonight. Located along the popular travel route from the Gobi Desert to Central Mongolia, the water does not run all year, but will only start after the first good summery rain between July and August.

Close racing in Masters and Veterans categories
Former US-American Cat 1 amateur road racer Ryan Saylor said today that it had been exactly that promise of experiencing such unique landscapes and views that made him come to his first MBC.

I’ve just never been to this part of the world and when I saw the videos and photos from last year, that really caught me and made me want to do this. I love trying out destinations that are not regular for most people. 

He added that he had been racing bikes for 34 years and enjoys the competition and training still. He explained that for the MBC he had specifically trained very hard - up to 23 hours a week for four weeks in a row.

I came here with the goal to do as best as I can and I didn’t really expect to do so well against the young guys. 

And today he did especially well as he sensationally has become the only racer so far to stay with the three Mongolian National Team racers when they attacked out of the gate this morning. He said he was able to hang on for 23km, only dropping back once and catching up to their wheels.

At the 23km mark he then lost the Mongolians and went on a wild solo ride until the half-way mark of the stage when Master 1 and 2 leaders Richard Deglise and Fran Tejada Benedito caught up to him just after the second GPM. Crossing the line together, Ryan is now third in Master 2 and 8th overall.

Fran Tejada Benedito has been attracting attention in the peloton, not only for his strong racing, but also because of the bike he is racing. Fran is the winner of the 3T Strava Challenge that the MBC put on earlier this year and he is racing his major prize, a 3T gravel bike, of which is says it was the ideal choice for the 2019 edition of the MBC.

I love riding my new bike her, it flies on the flat sections and is very fast even on the climbs as it responds to any efforts really well.

Of his racing strategy today he said that he had wanted to increase his category lead over the New Zealander Hamish Morrin. He went with Richard Deglise and the two of them chased down Ryan Saylor. The team effort has the Spaniard now in a solid lead by +22:44.4.

However, he says that the race was far from over and that he plans to very cautiously race to the finish tomorrow.

The plan is to take the Master 2 victory home tomorrow, but I will be cautious not to have any mechanicals or other problems to take bike and body across the finish line safely - and to the win.

Veterans leader Phil Smith from the US has a lead of 5:27 min over Martin Crone from Germany said today that a category win tomorrow would mean a lot to him.

To win the category tomorrow would be nice, but the experience is the most important thing, the adventure, the challenge, even if I just made the podium that would be extra special.

Martin Crone said that he still had an eye on the top step and that he would see how he felt tomorrow to try and make up some time, however, that he was content with a second place too.

Today Phil and I raced together all day and I really enjoyed his company, we are here to race but the camaraderie is more important for me.

The Australian Lance Portman is third in the Veterans classification and races for a very special cause too. With his participation he is raising funds for Multiple Sclerosis (MS) research projects to support his wife who has been living with the disease. Of the race he said that he had underestimated it, but still enjoyed the experience.

You spend a lot of time studying the elevation profiles and maps, but I did not expect the tough weather conditions, the strong winds and rugged terrain.

The racers are now recovering at the Orkhon River ger camp and steadying themselves for one last stage tomorrow, which will not be a ride in the park, far from it. With 1,650vm over only 80km will have to endure some big climbs, ascending up to a ridge that runs along the southern side of the river right after the start and racing high up on that ridge all the way until reaching the final stretch and can enjoy the view of a vast open plain where the capital of the Mongol Empire once stood: Kharkorin, our 2019 race finish.

Stage Gallery:

Description:

After 20km on flat ground we enter the eastern foothills of the Khangai, a massive mountain range that occupies the center of Mongolia with its highest point reaching 4008m above sea level. If you glance back from the day’s highest point at 2200m you will see distant shapes of the Gobi desert. The Khangai is picturesque. Our race course runs across bare slopes with scenic rock outcroppings, dramatic dome shaped mountains with their northern side covered in virgin woods, high passes and lush grassy valleys. You will ride along meadows full of grazing yaks and eventually arrive to finish line in the Orkhon river valley strewn with volcanic basalt. Overall road surfaces are on packed and smooth ground with some rocky sections close to mountain passes, loose gravel when near riversides and basalt fields that cross the track when in Orkhon valley.

  • WE ARE GOING TO SLEEP IN A GER CAMP.
  • BED AND "HOT SHOWER"
  • 3G COVERAGE

Overview

Departure: SANGIIN DALAI LAKE
Arrival: ORKHON RIVER
Distance: 126Km
Daily Climb: 1750m

Difficulty

Climb Awards: 3
Technical Challenge: High
Physical Challenge: Very High

Race Timing

Start Time: 08:30 am
Max. Allowed Time: 9 H
Last Arrival Time: 4:30 pm

Classifications:

Stage Chronicle:

Bolor-Erdene Enkhtaivan claims the 2019 outright victory

The Mongolian National Team scores their sixth hat trick in a row and completes the 10th Anniversary with a stage win, second and third place at the Mongolia Bike Challenge today at the ancient capital of the Mongol Empire, Kharkorin. Our Khan and race winner is the reigning Mongolian Time Trial National Champion Bolor-Erdene Enkhtaivan (nr. 7) who claimed the Maglia Rosa on day four and crossed the line after 24h41:19.0 of racing. Fellow Mongolian Bilguunjargal Erdenebat (nr. 41)  and U23 National Road Cycling Champion is a worthy runner-up with a gap of +8:53.8 after 650km of racing. With two stage wins and a gap of +20:54.5 pro-road cyclist Buyntogtokh Navaansamdan (nr. 66) places third overall. The fastest female racer with six stage wins is Ana Isabel Costa Pinto Alves from Portugal, finishing in 31h59:19.2 five hours ahead of the US-American Leah Bayer and the Spanish racer Amparo Herena Sanchez Martin (+7h40:35.3). Chapeau to all MBC Finishers of 2019!

The day had started in moderate pace at first and when the three Mongolians attacked many followed, forming a lead group of 15 riders. Riders reported that the three race leaders were on a mission to secure the podium and race win by driving the lead group hard, trying to break it apart by constantly attacking on the first smaller climbs, recounts the the New Zealander and Master 2 racer Hamish Morrin.

At the big lava field we were sitting on 30-35km/h and they were charging, trying to force the pace relentlessly.

He said that the larger lead group broke apart finally on the first big climb to the first GPM mountain classification point and that only Master 1 leader Richard Deglise (SUI) was able to keep up at that point. And then the Mongolian Bike Challenge reminded everyone once again that stage racing is fickle and that one must not let the guard down until the very last finish line:

On a particularly rough section before the first GPM point, suddenly pro-road cyclist Buyntogtokh Navaansamdan (nr. 66) dropped out of the lead trio with a flat tyre. From there, on all three GPM classifications, Bilguunjargal claimed the 30 sec bonus ahead of Bolor-Erdene (20 sec). Richard Deglise (10 sec) stayed with them until before the second GPM where claimed another 10 sec time bonus and had a gap of 1-1:30 min already.

Meanwhile, Buyntogtokh was on a wild chase and sensationally managed to not only catch up to Deglise, but to ride past him and take the 10 sec time bonus of the 3rd GPM.

Bilguunjargal Erdenebat was able to break away from the race leader Bolor-Erdene in a bold final attack on the last stretch of the stage. However, he was only able to get back 3:17 min and claiming his second stage win he finishes in second overall, +8:53.8 behind Bolor-Erdene.

Female victory for Ana Isabel Costa Pinto Alves

It had only been the second mountain bike stage race for Ana Isabel, who is a passionate adventure traveller and bike-packer from Portugal. A slight knee injury from a crash on day three where she got off lightly had not slowed her down much she said and that the six stage wins, female race win and the 30th position overall had been completely unexpected.

I just came here to have some fun, to win is an absolute plus. I did not have any agenda; it is a race, but I did not see it as such, I came here for the experience and for some fun. To see Mongolia was a big motivation for me.

Leah Bayer from the US is in second with a gap of five hours to the Portuguese winner and had a strong day today, finishing in second with a gap of only 20 min. She said that her second MBC had been very different racing and that she had enjoyed the daily ger camp set up this year.

I had a fun racing experience - I bizarrely even liked the 20km of sand at the end of the Queen Stage, because I just found myself cursing like a sailor, but then once I finished I thought, well, that is done, that was different. The food has been lovely and that has made a big difference.

Not seeing much of each other out on track they both agreed that they felt very comfortable racing among big groups of men. Leah who regularly races on the road said,

Most people do not pay too much attention, but the good thing about being a girl in a group is, if you pull, everybody has to pull, nobody gets to slack off when you are at the font. Generally speaking, that kind of works out well.

For Ana racing in such a big multinational peloton had been a new and enjoyable experience,

For me this was the first time I raced in a group, I do race mountain bikes in marathons, but I am often by myself and there is not that much drafting. Very interesting experience to race in a group and work together, help each other.

And this coming together as a group with the mutual goal to do well in the race and yet to blend into one big family was exactly what made this race so special said the founder Willy Mulonia as he looks back at 10 exciting and rewarding years of being at the helm of the Mongolia Bike Challenge,

The soul of the Mongolia Bike Challenge is that it does not matter which nationality you are. It is about the desire to become one big family and part of this wave of friendships that are formed here. This is not just a race, this is an attitude of life.

Registrations for the 2020 Edition of the Mongolia Bike Challenge are open now and no doubt Willy and his crew will once again aim to deliver a stellar event for riders from all over the World.

Stage Gallery:

Description:

The whole day can be called a ridge ride day. Soon after starting on the flat along the Orkhon river we ascend the ridge that runs along its southern side. The ridgeline crosses high grassy plateaus that provide a bird-eye views the Orkhon river. All the way till reaching the finish line we stay high on the ridge and finally enjoy the view of a vast open plain where the capital of the Mongol Empire once stood. The riding surface today is on packed ground with some short rocky sections when riding by riversides in the beginning.

This evening is our reward banquet. We will crown our Champions and award the Official Finishers with the Mongolia Bike Challenge.

  • WE ARE GOING TO SLEEP IN A GER CAMP.
  • BED AND COLD SHOWER
  • 3G COVERAGE

Overview

Departure: ORKHON RIVER
Arrival: KHARKORIN
Distance: 80Km
Daily Climb: 1650m

Difficulty

Climb Awards: 3
Technical Challenge: High
Physical Challenge: Very High

Race Timing

Start Time: 9:30 am
Max. Allowed Time: 6 H
Last Arrival Time: 1:30 pm

Classifications:

Description:

FINAL CHRONICLE

It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them.
- Ernest Hemmingway

As our warriors rest and embark on the final stretch of their journey with the Mongolia Bike Challenge 2019, the transfer back to Ulaanbaatar, we look back and sum up this past week - may it be an ode to our 108 racers and our amazing crew!

Congratulations to all our MBC 2019 finishers and well done to our podium getters. Thank you for coming onto the journey with us to discover the contours of Mongolia - we are in awe of what you have achieved.

 

Mongolian domination at the 10th Anniversary Edition

Bolor-Erdene Enkhtaivan claims the 2019 outright victory with unbeatable Mongolian National Team

From 10th-17th August cyclists from 25 countries were taking part in the adventure of a lifetime to race for six days through the magnificent landscapes of the Land of the Eternal Blue Sky. The six race stages took the 108 competitors on 650km through the magnificent Mongolian steppes with panoramic mountain passes, unspoiled rivers and incredible views of rare beauty. Every night was spent under the romantic roof of a traditional Mongolian ger and they truly experienced what life must have been like for people in the days of Genghis Khan, with their two-wheeled steed parked outside.

The Mongolia Bike Challenge was founded 10 years ago by Willy Mulonia, an adventurer and a dreamer who said that he was proud of how the event had established itself on the international stage racing circuit, however, that each year the participants had proved that it was more than a competition. He explained,

The soul of the Mongolia Bike Challenge is that it does not matter which nationality you are. It is about the desire to become one big family and part of this wave of friendships that are formed here. This is not just a race, this is an attitude of life.

And it was this adventurous and determined attitude of life that summoned 108 racers from all over the World to Ulaanbaatar for a sell-out 10th Mongolia Bike Challenge. The participants of the 2019 MBC came from 25 different countries and immersed themselves in the multi-cultural peloton instantly, Mulonia proudly said.

This race is for everyone who wants to experience what it feels like to step out of his or her comfort zone.

He added that it was a spectacular event that immerses its racers as well as the crew into an unforgettable 24/7 adventure among a big multi-cultural family in the wilds of the beautiful landscapes of Mongolia.

The racers truly embraced the country. They said that they collected unforgettable memories, sharing their experiences from out on the race track and talking about granite ranges with dramatic rock formations alongside the race course, huge plateaus, massive panoramic views of open landscapes and a seemingly never-ending narrow trail ahead of them. The spoke of racing through lava fields, along-side gurgling rivers and through beautiful forests with the sunrays coming through the trees, racing past wild animals and livestock including huge eagles, sheep, goats, camels and cattle with wild horses galloping alongside them - and of course of the unique encounters with the local nomadic herders who came out of their mushroom like houses to give them a wave and a smile. 

Local domination and six hat trick stage wins

With so many international competitors, the three racers of the Mongolian National Team stood out from day one. After the neutral ride out of Ulaanbaatar, they charged right out of the gate and none of the other riders was ever able to close in on them or make up time to them. All three very young and already successful pro-road cyclists, they said that for them this event was a very special race and that it was an honour to do so well. With its tough elevation profiles with more than 9,000 meters of climbing in total the MBC was a great endurance training opportunity for upcoming major road competitions in China and Korea.

At only 22 years old, the reigning U23 National Road Cycling Champion Bilguunjargal Erdenebat (nr. 41) claimed the first stage and stayed in the Maglia Rosa leader jersey for four days. The six days were characterised by attacks, wild chases and sprint finishes and the three team racers claimed two stage wins each.

On day four Bolor-Erdene Enkhtaivan (Nr. 7) won the stage with a big time gap, which brought a change of guard on the race leaderboard. The 25-year old reigning Mongolian National Individual Time Trial Champion Bolor-Erdene held onto the Maglia Rosa until the final day and is the 2019 MBC outright Champion after a total race time of 24h41:19.0. Bilguunjargal finished in second overall with a gap of +8:53.8 and Buyntogtokh Navaansamdan (nr. 66) completed the race in third (+20:54.5).

Richard Deglise (SUI) wins the battle for fourth place

The international racers said that the atmosphere in the chase group was positive, even though the Mongolian team had been so dominant and racing in a league of their own. Yet, everyone enjoyed the camaraderie and the beautiful scenery and all chasers agreed that throughout the six days the group had worked together well, turning themselves inside out to try and make up time until the final day -  the battle for fourth place was a race on its own.

One of the strongest chasers was the Swiss racer Richard Deglise who won the Master 1 category and finished fourth outright. Richard was the only racer who was able to stay within one hour of the three leaders for four days and his final result was a gap of +1h19:36.6 to the outright Khan Bolor-Erdene.

In fifth was Fran Tejada Benedito from Spain (+1h51:27.2), the Master 2 winner this year with a total race time of 26h32:46.2. The US American Phil Smith is the Veterans winner with a total race time of 28h18:38.4, placing 10th outright.

Six stage titles for the outright female winner

With six consecutive stage wins, the fastest female racers and winner this year is Ana Isabel Costa Pinto Alves. The MBC had been only her second ever stage race the passionate bike-packing adventurer admitted and said of the MBC that racing in large groups had been exciting but that it had been the remote scenery that she had enjoyed the most. With a total race time of 31h59:19.2 she impressively finished in the 30th outright position, which had been completely unexpected.

I did not have any agenda coming into this event; it is a race, but I did not see it as such, I came here for the experience and for some fun. To see Mongolia was a big motivation for me. I just came here to have some fun, to win is an absolute plus.

Her runner up was Leah Bayer from the US in 36h59:56.4. The road racer said that it had been a very positive experience racing among the male-dominated peloton. 

Most people do not pay too much attention [that there is a female in their group], but the good thing about being a girl in a group is, if you pull, everybody has to pull, nobody gets to slack off when you are at the font. Generally speaking, that kind of works out well.

After the MBC is before the MBC

With MBC number 10 in the bag, race founder Willy Mulonia had a big smile on his face at the finish line at the ancient capital of the Mongol Empire, Kharkorin. He said that he was so proud that the anniversary edition was such a successful event, even though he had been quite nervous about it.

Number 10, I knew the expectation from everyone was very high, especially from my side it was really high with the first sell-out event, a new race route and all, I am so glad it all went so well and successfully. I could not have hoped for more.

He said that the past decade had been an incredible journey for him and one of his biggest achievements was to assemble a great team to help deliver this event so successfully. It had been a lot of hard work and many hours of preparation by the entire crew.

The success of this event is the team I have. I know I designed this event and it all started with my dream, but I realised throughout it all that probably the best skill I have is to choose the right people around me. They don’t just do as they are told, but they are more able at what they do than me. So really, I am guiding them like a conductor so that we deliver a successful event and throughout it all I am learning from them and listen to their ideas and input. We really complement each other and they all love this race as much as I do and that makes a big difference and I think this also resonates with our racers. They can feel this passion and that we really care about them.

He said that this anniversary edition had been incredibly rewarding for him personally,

I stood there at the finish line and all the riders came to me and thanked me.... thank you, thank you, thank you, everyone came to me …  And it was not just the words they spoke that really touched me, but it was their eyes. Looking directly into mine, seriously and honestly and telling me, we really thank you Willy for this event. This means so much to me and was all that I could have hoped for in this 10th Anniversary Edition.

Looking ahead at 2020, Willy revealed that together with his Operations Manager and 2IC Roberto the race route for the next MBC was already drafted up. He confirmed that the event would remain in the same area, west of Ulaanbaatar, and that he was looking forward to the next decade at the helm of the Mongolia Bike Challenge.

The soul of the Mongolia Bike Challenge is that it does not matter which nationality you are. It is about the desire to become one big family and part of this wave of friendships that are formed here. This is not just a race, this is an attitude of life.

Registrations for the 2020 Edition of the Mongolia Bike Challenge from 16th to 24th August 2020 are open now.

Stage Gallery:

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